MANILA – Students from the state-run schools stand to lose their scholarships if they showed support for the communist rebels in overthrowing the government, warned President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an interview on Wednesday night at the Malacañang, Duterte said he considers students who support the New People’s Army (NPA ) his enemies.
“If you go and say, ‘let us go out, join the NPAs, support the NPAs, give food to the NPAs, money to the NPAs,’ then you espouse the destruction of the duly constituted government,” Duterte said.
He added: “If you espouse to overthrow the government then you are committing the crime of rebellion. It carries with it the penalty of no bail. When the time comes I will arrest all of them and they will lose everything the government has offered them.”
The President however clarified that he has nothing against those who simply join protest rallies against his government’s policies as they are free to air their grievances as part of freedom of expression.
“Wala naman kung dissent lang. If you disagree with my move, you disagree or you do not find consonance in our decision. I need more overt acts,” he said.
Duterte’s statement came after National Youth Commission chief Ronald Cardema issued a controversial statement urging Duterte to issue an executive order removing the scholarships of “all rebellious, anti-government scholars.”
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Wednesday that the state could not just revoke scholarships of students on mere suspicion that they were part of any radical movement.
“We are a government of laws, not of speculations. Kailangan mayroon tayong ebidensya na parte nga sila ng grupo na laban sa gobyerno,” Panelo said. “Kung sila ay sumasama lang sa mga rally, that’s a right. That’s freedom of expression.”
He added: “Unless you can show concrete evidence that they are really part of those who are against this government hindi naman pu-pwede iyon. If you just express your dissent to government policies, kasama sa demokrasya iyon.”/PN